Belgian bicycle gear technology possible game-changer
Belgian start-up Classified, founded by former employees of Punch Powertrain, developed a virtual derailleur that takes over the task of the double gears on the crankshaft of a bicycle with derailleur gears. It could be a game-changer, the developers believe.
Classified competes with market leader Shimano with a virtual derailleur. Classified’s high-tech hub is incorporated into the rear wheel hub. It is a kind of virtual, invisible gearbox. An ingenious combination of gears controlled wirelessly by electronic shifters on the steering wheel.
The end of the classic front derailleur?
The Classified system can mean the end of the classic front derailleur. Because the front sprockets vary considerably in size – much more than at the rear – the shifting system and chain have to make a big leap each time.
This doesn’t always happen smoothly, especially if you pedal with full force. The new technology not only prevents a faltering gear (where the chain gets stuck) but also shifts much faster.
One crankshaft blade, 22 gears
The rear derailleur is well preserved in combination with the new hub. “With our system, one blade at the front is sufficient, but you still retain the range of two blades,” explains Plouvier. “With one blade in the front and eleven gears in the rear, you still have 22 gears,” says Mathias Plouvier, CEO and co-shareholder of Classified.
The idea of hub gears is not new and is already applied in city bikes. What’s more, players like Shimano or NuVinci only offer rear wheel hub systems and not a combination of a derailleur with hub gears.
Classified enters a market dominated by the Japanese Shimano, which has a 75% market share. “We think this is a game-changer, and we’ve built in broad patent protection. We stayed under the radar for a long time. Now is the time to show us,” says Plouvier.
Last year, the company raised 2,5 million euros of capital from LRM and a few private investors. Classified now has its first contract in its pocket, and talks are ongoing with other players, but the entrepreneur does not want to release names.
This year, the first bikes with ‘Classified Inside’ will be available. This concept is suitable for road bikes, mountain bikes, and time trial bikes in the higher price segment.